Friday, July 30, 2010

Theater of the Mind, Starring: "ME"

A few things occured to me today. These things have occured to me before, but the ego is so clever that its only a matter of time before the unconsciousness sets in and there's a reminder. It happens to everyone. Here is what occurred to me:

1.) It's not about me.
2.) It's not about me.
3.) It's not about me.

There are other ways to put this: The world doesn't revolve around me...that has nothing to do with me...I'm not THAT get the drift. In the theater of the mind, we are always the star.

But, today I became fully satisfied with the fact that, all at once, I was incredibly aware of how much of my own self-worth and confidence was coming from my perceptions of how I thought everyone around me perceived me.

All at once, I grew overwhelmingly wary of my own endless attempts to please people accordingly - habitually reading them and feeling the need to meet their needs, then getting resentful when it eventually exhausts me and there is no reciprocation (nor should I expect it!). 

Other people have their own stories. They have their own issues going on. I understand this, because it is true of me too. From now on, if someone is rude to me, I will bless them, but I will not be a doormat either.  I will remember that I am a child of the Universe, that whatever situation, circumstance, or interaction I am in is just a passing breeze in the Eternity of time, and that everything has its place, purpose, and is transient.  I will create a protective space around me that does not allow others' "stuff" to invade my cheerful spirit in a negative way.

I will no longer ride the emotional roller coaster of always worrying if I've upset someone even though I know I am kindhearted and wouldn't intentionally do this. I will stop apologizing for every little thing unnecessarily.

I will remember that everything is on a ebb and flow cycle, just like the tide...
Peoples' moods
Busyness verses boring times
Laughter and tears

Last night I took 30 minutes of Savasana, and it was heavenly.  Even though the monkey mind was quite relentless, I definitely felt a significant improvement in my overall mood and clarity today compared with yesterday. It was worth it, and I deserve it. And so do you.

May you remember that you are precious and whole, and that no matter how much someone else tries to rain on your parade, you are still precious and whole, worthy, and blessed.  May you remember that in order to take care of anyone else or serve in any capacity, you must first take care yourself - and it's NOT selfish.

Think of the airplane mask analogy. You must secure your mask first so you don't pass out - or else how would you then put the other mask on  your loved one?

It is your responsibility to care for your temple (body), your mind, and your Spirit as is me.  It is wise to Love yourself.  From this place, we find and live in balance. Only then can we truly give to others from a place of purity.

Debbie aka Sulilo

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How I'm Dealing with my "Hang Over"

For most of my life, I've been quite petite and within or under the normal weight range for my height.  I struggled with body image and disordered eating as a teenager and into early adulthood, and with media images constantly bombarding us with messages that thin is beautiful, it is difficult not to at times be influenced and made to feel bad about oneself.

To add insult to injury, when I am under extreme stress (i.e., death of a loved one), my appetite all but goes away, and I have a power struggle with this very basic need essential to all beings on this planet.  It's interesting how, in survival mode, our reactions, perceptions, and behaviors are colored by the experiences we've had, the lessons we've been taught, and the stories we've come to believe over the years. As soon as I feel calm and better again, I eat like a horse.

But the truth is that the thin image that models and actresses are pressured to aspire to are rarely healthy.  For me, healthy means having a good appetite, eating when I am hungry, and not depriving myself - even of sweets and such, as long as its in moderation (and sometimes not, i.e., about once a month).

One of the women I admire the most, Audrey Hepburn, also dealt with disordered eating. She was part of a family that was involved in politics during the Holocaust times and often hid with her family without access to food for a week at a time.  This unfortunately set her up to have a dysfunctional relationship with food, though she survived well into old age, having somehow made peace and found a balance (though she is said to have been on the Atkins diet long before it was ever heard of and was said to have thrown a fit when directed to eat a pastry in a scene of "Breakfast at Tiffany's.")

Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's

The body image that I would love  to see "come back in fashion" is that of Marilyn Monroe.  At the beginning of her career, she was a size 8, and toward the end of her too-short life, she was a size 10, according to this woman who had an amazing opportunity to try on some of Marilyn's costumes.

Marilyn was voluptuous, sensual, and - let's just say it - she had curves and meat on her bones. 

Marilyn Monroe doing Yoga
In my current state of PMS, there were 4 incidents that led me to write this particular blog post today:

1.) My friend, Celebrity MakeUp Artist Kandee Johnson just blogged about how to not let things get in the way of believing that you can achieve big things.  You can read her blog post here.

Me and the Ever Beautiful Kandee Johnson in 2010

The part that caught my eye this morning was:

"And don't listen to the dream-stopper lies that try to prevent your dream from happening...
your never:too fat or thin, not attractive enough.....(Oprah has struggled with her weight, but she became the most powerful women (person) in the media...true talent doesn't have a size or a beauty rating! I've seen some "pretty" people that were the ugliest people I've ever seen, and no one wanted them around!)" ~ Kandee Johnson

If you're into beauty, makeup, and beautiful free spirits who spread joy, consider following Kandee on YouTube and Facebook.

2.) One of my young followers on Twitter tweeted that she hates being fat and feels disgusting. She is a petite model, same height as me, and weighs 3 pounds less.  She wants to lose 15 more pounds.

3.) I noticed some serious "hang over" today.  My pants are definitely tighter than they were a year ago, and the muffin top is not pretty.  I had a moment where I really judged myself in disgust...I needed to shift that into compassion and acceptance.  In fact, I watched a video yesterday that I promised myself I would watch to have a laugh whenever I get down on myself for having gained a bit of weight.  I need to just buy some new pants already.

4.) The video I came across, thanks to my friend Gabby.  Warning, it has some colorful language, but you may find it comical, and it may hit home. It's called "The Top 5 Reasons to Be Fat."

I know I am not the only one who needs some comical relief about this issue.  In yoga, we learn to love and accept our bodies where we are at, and we naturally, as time goes on, integrate healthier habits into our lives, learn to listen to our body's cues, and we learn to accept others as they are.

May we continue to show ourselves love and to strive for healthy bodies while we are on this planet.

Debbie aka Sulilo

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Happy (Drunk?) Guy at Safeway

I made my weekly trek to the grocery stores to load up on goodies that will become wholesome meals and snack for us for the week.  I left the house earlier than usual and was pleasantly surprised by how this small adjustment in my routine allowed for a much more mellow shopping experience.  There were far less people on the roads and in the stores at 10:30 am on a Sunday than there are when I usually arrive there at about 1:30.

People seemed to be in a better mood too. Perhaps I had gotten to the stores in time to sneak a peek and enjoy the company of "the morning people"?  It sure seemed that way.

My checker at Trader Joe's was as happy as a lark, telling me about how he'd been up since 6 am and how his 2 dogs were shaking him on his bed to let him know that it was time for them to go outside.  At Safeway, I decided to pick up some flowers for a new friend for her birthday.  I picked some out and, since the clerk behind the counter was busy with another customer, I asked if she'd kindly wrap them while I made the rounds and shopped. She agreed.

I was a bit annoyed when I returned to the floral counter to see a different clerk and my flowers still sitting up on the counter.  The new clerk was helping two gentlemen who were buying many flower arrangements. "Excuse me," I said, "where is the clerk who was here earlier? I asked her to please wrap these while I was shopping."  "She got busy," the woman with kind eyes replied, "I will wrap them for you."  Something about the kindness in her eyes softened my heart, and I couldn't be irritated anymore.  I decided to wait right there, though, just to make sure I wasn't forgotten again.

Then, unexpectedly, one of the two gentlemen began joking with me and the clerks.  He smelled a little bit of alcohol, which triggered a "judge him" moment for me...then I remembered that only this morning I had suggested to my Sulilo Facebook friends that we release all judgment, for we do not know what someone has gone through or what they are currently going through.

I waited while the new clerk (and the one from earlier, who reappeared), completed the order for these gentlemen.  All the while, the boos breath guy was making me, the other customers, and the clerks behind the floral counter laugh with one witty joke after the other. It was an unexpected delight - one I never would have enjoyed and shared with the others around me had I put my nose in the air and walked away in impatience, anger, or judgment.  The senior clerk asked the man for his Safeway Club Card number (his phone number), and after he announced it to her, he nudged me and said, "Now, I hope you didn't write that down. I'm a happily married man, and I can't deal with having any stalkers."  We all giggled. It was one comment like this after another.

When I left the store with my groceries and flowers, I was glad that I had gotten up earlier this Sunday morning...glad that I arrived at the store just when I had...and glad that there was a delay in getting my flowers wrapped. It is amazing how sharing unexpected laughter, with someone who is so at ease with bringing smiles and giggles to others' hearts, can set your day up for gratitude and joy. And, it is a beautiful thing when you get to practice what you preach.

Thank you guy.

Debbie aka Sulilo

Friday, July 23, 2010

Grace like Audrey Hepburn

When asked which celebrity I admire most...which celebrity I aspire to be most like or feel most akin with, my answer is Audrey Hepburn.

Audrey possessed a state of grace, elegance, and had a regal presence, all while being humble, loving, and caring about others.

While it's not fair to put her on a pedestal or giver her saintly status, I just can't imagine her being someone who would get infuriated by a slow driver in front of her when clearly she had somewhere she needed to be by a certain time and clearly she had a frightened animal in the car and clearly she was trying to offer every signal to the car in front of her that she really needed to be traveling at least at the speed limit.  I can't imagine her getting so angry that she could feel her heart beat faster and her blood pressure rising and her frustration and stress level hitting new heights.

No, I imagine Audrey would have gracefully driven at as fast a speed as she safely could.  She perhaps would have gently waved and smiled to the other driver, trying to nicely get their attention and signal for them to please pull aside.  Perhaps she would have found another route or pulled over to regain her composure had she slightly lost her cool.

I was able to channel my inner Audrey this evening, but not until I had become fully consumed with frustration and even anger toward the driver in front of me who seemed like he had no where to be anytime soon.  Once channeled, I was able to send whispers of "sorry," and "please have compassion," "I am compassionate" and "we are one" to the driver in front of me.

I thought of how embarrassed I felt for having become so consumed. I wished the driver in the car would have been a little bit more thoughtful and would have pulled over to allow me to pass. 

I then repeated the "We are one" mantra. I realized that there have more than likely been times when I have been somewhat oblivious to another vehicle that wanted to drive more quickly than I was allowing.  I know there have been times in the fast when I behaved in a "righteously indignant" way, thinking, "The speed limit is 35, and I will not go a 1/4 of a mile above it. Sorry guy behind me."

This situation made me reach out from the heart to ask forgiveness to the driver in front of me, to forgive myself and show myself compassion (I've been working hard and have become a caretaker to my partner overnight since he suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident), and this blog is the first opportunity in about a WEEK where I've had some time to be alone with myself and my thoughts and express myself fully), and I got to remember to think this:

The next time someone is trying to pass you on the road, if it is safe to do so, consider letting them by.  They may just be acting jerky and rushing for no reason, but you never know. They could be rushing to see a loved one who was just rushed to the emergency room.  They could be transporting an injured and frightened animal. They could be feeling sick.  Let's treat each other with love, respect, compassion, and understanding, truly remembering, internalizing, and knowing that We Are One.

Enjoy these images of Audrey with some beautiful words/music to make us think.

Debbie aka Sulilo

Some poses for invoking Grace:

Parsvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose)

Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Kitty Yoga - What we can learn from these natural Yogis

I learn a lot about about Yoga by watching my kitten. While most of us do not have the luxury of living life as a cat does (though I came pretty close during the last few months of my unemployment period), we can observe these wise creatures when we are able to be at home with them.

Here are some observations about my kitten, Grey Bear:

My kitten eats when he's hungry and stops when he's full. (He practices Dosha balancing.)

He cleans up after himself.  (He would cleanse his yoga mat if he had one.)

He loves to play and is filled with wonder at the great big world around him, even if it means perching from a window sill and watching the trees sway and birds fly about.  (He is content and never bored.)

He takes a nap whenever he feels the least bit drowsy, and he is restored to full energy upon awakening. (He knows that Savasana is time VERY well spent. He also remembers the pre-school lesson we often leave behind: we need naps!)

This photo is of my kitten, Grey Bear

He, with ease, contorts his flexible kitty self into the most unique and amazing and humanly impossible anatomical positions for the pure joy of it. (He loves complex asanas as well as gentle restorative poses.)

He purrs when he is pleased, joyful, content, happy - it's his way of smiling and laughing. (He loves life.)

He cries out when he is angry or scared, being sure to let us know.  (He expresses his emotions instead of bottling them in.)

Ok, perhaps I've read a bit much into my cat and how his behavior ties in with my obsession with yoga. But that's just it - when you live your Yoga, you see it in all situations and all creatures.  May you be blessed with eyes that see.

Me working on Crow Pose

Debbie aka Sulilo

With the exception of the photo of me doing Crow Pose and Grey Bear in front of the computer, the photos in this post are from various sources on the web. Mouse over them to enjoy them at their original locations if you wish.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

♪♫ I'm learning to fly, but I ain't got wings ♪♫

Perhaps it was a minor state of delusion, having been up at an unmentionable hour to transport my partner to work (yes, he insisted on going to work before he has surgery on Thursday), and then commuting 45 minutes back in the opposite direction in order to reach my workplace by 8 am...but as I switched through the radio dials (not something I normally do - I love the stations on my presets and usually have a good CD en to as well)...I came across a song by Tom Petty, and it transported me to somewhere else.

The only lyrics I remember are from the chorus, "I'm learning to fly, but I ain't got wings."  This struck me as very poetic, and the music with very soft, faint background vocals gave the song an ethereal feel. I wished that it had gone on for much longer than it had.

I had imagery of an angel training for flying who hadn't quite yet received her wings.  Then I thought about how Life sometimes trains us for certain events, circumstances, or relationships. We may not feel fully equipped to handle what has been placed before us, but if we think about it from the Angel's perspective, (and Tom Petty's), these training sessions can be summed up as, "I'm learning to fly, but I ain't got wings."  Life will cause us to sprout the wings when the timing is just right.  We just need to Trust and do what we know we need to do. The wings will arrive on time.

Here's the Tom Petty song, in case you'd like to check it out and perhaps be transported yourself.
Please enjoy. The video is pretty neat, too. :-)

Debbie aka Sulilo

I found the angel picture here.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Power of Friendships

Meeting with two dear friends this week (one on Thursday evening, the night my partner was in a motorcycle accident) and the other today, reminded me of how important it is that we nurture our relationships.

It's never quite like childhood again - where you could count on seeing your friends every day at school...or when you knew that the neighborhood kids would almost always be up for playing on the weekends.

As children, we are so good at forming, developing, and nurturing friendships. When I was in school, we chatted on the phone so much when we weren't actually together doing "something," even if that something was simply sitting around together talking and laughing.

As we get older, many of us naturally begin to feel drawn to someone who becomes our partner. Some of us go on to expand the love by creating a family.  Then the little family world becomes self-inclusive.  We notice that we no longer have as close of ties with friends as we once did.  It is natural, of course, for they, too have started to go in different directions - new relationships, jobs, locations, family issues.

It will unlikely ever be as easy as it was to maintain close, long-term friendships as it was when we were children.  As adults, it takes commitment, motivation, and the willingness to make time in order to nurture our relationships.

With a recent passing in my family, a new job, and a new kitten, I was pretty much m.i.a. for about 6 weeks.  I was so busy that I barely had time to respond to emails or texts, let alone to return a phone call.  People who cared about me were a little bit worried, and they also felt a bit hurt.  After some communication, though, it became clear as to how several major shifts at once had contributed to my lack of responsiveness, and firm plans were finally made.

On Thursday night, my dear friend and I breathed together. We walked together. We had dinner together.  We laughed. I did a little bit of crying. She did a lot of supporting. We visited my partner in the hospital together. It was one of those amazing summer evenings that I wish my partner could have been out enjoying with us, but he was laid up in the hospital, hurt and alone. My friend helped us to both feel better, and she reminded me of the need to be sure I was taking good care of myself so that I would be able to help my partner.  I feel so blessed to have her in my life. She practiced pranayama with me and didn't even know it - or maybe it was more like big belly sighs. Ahhhhh.   ☺  We discussed the importance of our relationship, how much it means to both of us, and, once we were shocked by the updates we were giving each other last Thursday evening (WHAT? That happened and I am just hearing about it NOW?), we decided to get on a once a week phone call plan and to make it our intention to use that time to stay connected.  I am so happy about this.

Today, I spent the morning with one of my Yoga teachers, who is also my friend.  We spoke openly, in mutual respect, about a myriad of things.  We attended a very relaxing and meditative 90-minute restorative Yoga class. It was so nice to be on the mat next to her, with her being a receiver and participant, able to enjoy the class. Every other time we've been together in a Yoga environment, she's been the teacher and I've been the student. It was really nice to practice with her, side-by-side, as friends. We then went on a nice walk and had a great heart-to-heart discussion.

This was followed by lunch, and the weather could not have been more perfect. It was warm with a very gentle breeze. We sat outside overlooking a lake, eating delicious Tex-Mex food. We were laughing at how ferociously hungry we both were and how we devoured the chips and salsa so fast that we began to have "food anxiety" as to whether the waiter would refill our items quickly enough for us.   We talked about the universal issue of feeling insecure and the different places it could stem from, and how simply reviewing a situation from a positive, loving perspective (instead of from a place of fear) can really help us to see that we often worry that people are thinking things about us or doing things with regards to us, and most of it is just monkey mind - insecure chatter that is so far from the truth of reality.

Mark Twain once said, "I have lived a long life and had many troubles, most of which never happened."

So many of our worries never manifest or never were issues to worry about to begin with.  In conferring  with friends,  we are reminded that we are not alone. We are more alike than we are different. And we can't and should not go it alone.

I am so thankful for my friends and loved ones, and I wish you the feeling of peace in a network of people that you feel connected with. May those relationships be nurtured and enjoyed, as I continue to have happen in mine.

Debbie aka Sulilo

Photo of Teenage Girls from People Magazine.
Be Happy image is from PhotoLog.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Trusting in Life...

I don't know about you, but from my own personal experiences and from what others have shared with me, Trusting in Life is not as easy as one might hope or imagine.

If we've experienced many past disappointments or have fallen multiple times when trying to accomplish something of great meaning to us, one natural response is that of distrust.  You may think that because you've been hurt by a partner in the past that if you open up your heart and trust, you will be hurt again.  You may think that after 15 job interviews and feeling rejected for not having been hired, if you go out on another interview, you may be rejected again.

And, you know what - those things could very well happen.  But you know what else could also happen? You might tap into your own strength, and that of the collective strength of the Universe, and you may surprise yourself. Letting go and trusting may result in a relationship that doesn't fail or that long awaited job offer. Or, it may give you the courage, self-compassion, strength, and wisdom if your next relationship does fizzle out or that perfect job has not yet become open to you.

As a person who has dealt with anxiety issues, I can tell you that when and only when I begin to surrender my ego's need to control everything (which is just an illusion anyway - there is only so much that we really control), only when I am willing to relinquish my stubborn streaks of doing the go-go-go without resting thing, only when I ask Life to fill me with trust for its plan and for trust in myself as a capable, worthy, and strong child of the Universe - only then do I notice that things begin to turn around in a positive direction.

If you are struggling right now with an issue that has you feeling stuck, consider declaring to Life that you surrender and are open and willing to be shown the ways in which you may heal and move forward from the current circumstances. If  you sense that Life is letting you know that this is where you need to be right now, uncomfortable or not, then ask that your eyes, heart, and mind may be blessed with the wisdom that will allow you to take the absolute best care of yourself and bring the highest good to you and everyone involved.

Listening to a progressive muscle relaxation CD and a guided imagery meditation helped soften my heart to surrender.  I pray that you find your outlet and door.

Debbie aka Sulilo

I found the Trust photo here.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Things that got me through...

Yesterday, just moments after I arrived at work, I received a phone call that shook me to the core. My partner of 9 years had been in a motorcycle accident. He was speaking to me, but I had no idea how badly he might be injured.

I was lucky to be in the same building as the Chief of the Fire Department and a fire department volunteer, and we got to the scene very quickly. I felt very helpless as I saw my love all banged up, bleeding, bruised, and swollen. He was shaking like a leaf and was clearly feeling the affects of adrenaline.

He was hauled away in an ambulance, was treated for trauma, admitted overnight, and I just brought him home this evening. He has surgery next Thursday on his lower right leg and ankle area, which he broke. For now, he is in a soft cast and on crutches.

I am so thankful to God, to Life, to the Universe that my partner made it through this accident.  The most touching thing about it was that he swayed to avoid hitting a rabbit.  Does that not melt your heart as it did mine (and everyone else who heard the story)?

He had on protective gear, and he WILL be alright. It's just difficult watching someone you love have to struggle, in pain, to do things that are ordinarily so easy, routine, and taken for granted.

Please keep him in your prayers and kind thoughts.

The things that got me through as I drove home, alone, late at night, without my partner by my side:

* I repeated that I was strong and summoned the common strength of the Universe - the same strength that holds up big trees that are rooted deeply into the ground, and I asked Life to infuse me with the confidence to know that I too shared that strength
* I prayed for George, and I prayed for those whose story doesn't end up even as close to as good as ours has
* I saw the brightly lit stars and moon in the nights sky, something I don't ordinarily see
* I saw city lights twinkling around in the late evening hours

* I felt, breathed, and tasted the crisp, delicious, summer evening air
* Earlier in the evening, I spent time with a good friend who I hadn't seen in months
* I spoke on the phone with several concerned family members who offered prayers, love, help, and well wishes
* I listened to a radio show on energy conservation, and the the fact that there were so many intelligent people, wide awake and invested in the phone-in program...well, it felt like they were keeping me company on my long ride home. ☺
* I snuggled with my cat
* I practiced Pranayama
* I showed myself compassion
* The next morning, since there was nothing I could do at the hospital, I went to work and put my all into each and every one of my tasks and did not look for any special treatment or exceptions in getting everything done that needed to get done, and this felt good
* I skipped blogging last night because my rest came first

Thank you for your prayers, love, kind thoughts, positive energy, etc. to my partner and I during this time.

We feel the love and send love to you, too!

Debbie aka sulilo

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Online Ommmm....

Last night I decided to try Yogis Anonymous' free, online restorative class. I was very pleased.  The class was taught by Yoga Instructor Chani Nicholas with live music performed by Matthew Hufschmidt.

The experience was 90 minutes of bliss, in my pajamas, comfortably at home.  Some recommendations would be:

  • Make sure you carve out a full 90 minutes to allow yourself to enjoy this experience. Turn off the phone, ask your partner to watch the kids, and let your kitten out of the room (I learned this after my toes were bitten a couple of times during the Baddha Konasana Bound Angle pose.)
  • Have your props ready. The instructor used a bolster, several blankets, an eye pillow, a strap, and a couple of blocks, but she repeatedly noted that you can use whatever you have around the house: pillows, blankets, towels, a belt.
  • Be careful when you do the poses, as you do not have a trained teacher to watch you and to help modify your position. If anything hurts, stop.  Restorative yoga is more about the relaxation aspect. It's ok to feel a stretch, but if it feels like you are straining or working too hard, just back off and take it down a notch.
  • Really set your intention to release the monkey mind before you start. I didn't really do this, and I was probably about half way through the practice before I really let myself go.

I'd be delighted to hear about your experience with this or any other online yoga class.

Enjoy, relax, and restore.

Click here for the class.

Debbie aka Sulilo

I found the beautiful image of Supta Padangustasana at this blog, which also features free online yoga podcasts.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Lesson Learned, Deep Breath Taken, All is Well (FREE Full-length Yoga Classes Online!)

If you read my blog post yesterday, this is a follow up to that.  If you'd like to read that one first, please click here.  The reader's digest version is that I jam packed my day, and while I thought that everything I was doing was to meet some priorities, needs, or intentions, I can see today that I was off the mark and should have listened more to the cues that my body was giving me, rather than my ego.

I went to bed tired and woke up tired. I experienced "muffin revenge" all morning. (You don't want to know, but let's just say that these were very high fiber treats apparently enjoyed in too large of a quantity.)

What good is "getting everything done" in one day, with the intention of "enjoying" the next if you've worked yourself up into a stressball of anxiety and stomach upset? Lesson learned, breath taken (literally, in count for 4, hold for 4, release for 4), and giving myself the Louse L. Hay mantra, "All is Well."

Fortunately at work today, everyone else was off-site. I was able to do my work and conduct some research on the new industry that I am now in while also practicing pranayama at my desk.  I stayed hydrated and waited for the storm to pass.

I confirmed with myself that there is no way that I am putting myself through the 30-day shred tonight. It is an amazing workout, and it is VERY high intensity.  I am a person who, aside from yoga and some casual pace walking, has been quite sedentary for some I jumped right into this exercise practice, and yesterday was Day 5.  I believe that the program is designed for people just like me; however, there is a young woman demonstrating modified versions of the exercises, with less impact, and I should be following her for the time being. So that is one change I plan to make.  As of a moment mid-morning today, I am resuming listening to my body and responding with love and compassion.  I am thanking it for taking on the extra toll that I put on it in a not so friendly (or gradual way). And I am sorry to it for abusing it by not taking things a bit slower, not listening to cues, and eating way too much bran in one sitting.

I am also taking tonight off from the intense work out and will be enjoying something nourishing and wholesome for dinner (probably the leftovers that I made so I wouldn't have to cook tonight, lol), and I will be doing an hour and a half of restorative yoga. Click here for the class I'll be taking.

My friend Kendra, who is also a yoga teacher, suggested a link to a great website to a Yoga Studio in Santa Monica that delivers FREE yoga classes via live streaming video, and they have a library of all of their streams archived so that you can watch them at any time.  There is no charge - the studio runs on donations. Because of this, if you do use their services, it would be good karma to make a donation now and then if you are able. It truly is a blessing that they are offering this service.

I can't always make it down to an actual class after work (though live classes are ideal for me, personally - I love the energy of the interconnectedness that you can get in-person).  But for people who also cannot make it to the studio, who are traveling, or who live someplace where there aren't any yoga classes (GASP!), Yogis Anonymous provides amazing resource to the world. This is an amazing way to keep your home practice going with lots of variety and different teaching styles and levels of intensity.

So, is it worth it to jam pack your day in hopes of a less busy tomorrow? Nope. There will still be other things that will come up that need your attention, so it's probably best to just pace yourself and take good care of yourself. Listen to what your body needs - not what MTV, your partner, Jillian Michaels, or anyone else thinks is good for you.  You (and I) have the answers within and can tap into the Universal intelligence that is there for all of us.

Next time, before I make major changes in my life (like this new exercise program), I will meditate on how I can integrate such a thing into my life with ease, love, and healthiness.  And, I hope that my lesson learned spares you from having to go through stress the next time you shake up your routine.

Bright blessings of love. Thank you so much for reading my blog.

Debbie aka Sulilo

Yogis Anonymous is located at
Images are from their website and belong to them.

This blog was not sponsored, and the information herein is the complete opinion and review of the blog author.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Not Enough Hours in Your Day?

Sometimes I try to squeeze so much into a day that it's ridiculous. Take today for example.  I woke up and did a 20 minute Pranayama practice.  Then it was off to eat breakfast, do my makeup, and get dressed within about a 40 minute period (would have been an hour, but I added in the Pranayama unplanned).  Then it was off to work.

At lunch time, I raced to eat, go to the post office and rescue a dog that had gotten loose. I must say he was so cute, and there was no way I could leave him on the side of the road.  His name is Maximillian, and he's safely at home with his family now.  He must have wondered what was going on as I snapped photos of him before taking  him back to his home. :)


I returned to work and completed all of my tasks and then diligently, one-by-one, transferred all of my contact from my old T-mobile phone to my new Verizon phone.  I tweeted. I facebooked. I checked email. I responded to email. I answered the phone. I made copies. I interacted with coworkers.

Then it was time to go home. On my way home, now that I have reception where I live (thank you, Verizon!), I pulled over to connect my device to my car's Bluetooth (for hands-free calling).  Then, rather than taking a few deep breaths and perhaps listening to some music, I placed a phone call to a friend, confirming plans for Thursday evening.

Then I got home (are you exhausted yet?).  I called my mother, who lives on the other coast. Ten minutes turned into 20.  I then jumped right into Day 5 of Jillian Michael's 30-Day shred DVD...

Jillian Michaels -trainer, life coach,
and star of reality TV Show "Biggest Loser"

followed by grilling chicken and pineapple rings and cooking cumin and garlic seasoned black beans.  Then we ate dinner. Then I got up and started making muffins so we'd have something nutritious to eat for breakfast this week.

 The yummy muffins that will nourish
us this week for breakfast

While all of this was happening, I threw a load of laundry in....and I just took an intermission from this blog to get the load of out of the dyer and fold it.
So, why am I telling you all of the details of my rather ordinary and uneventful day?  Why did I push myself so hard to get so much done in just one day?  Where were my priorities? What were my intentions? What were my motives?

These questions occurred to me, and I extend this one to you: Do your days look like this? Are they perhaps even busier?  What is it that we are trying to accomplish?

I'll take my own questions, and I encourage you to reflect on the same questions as well.

Where were my priorities, intentions, and motives?

I believe that my priorities were to to take care of my body (the exercise DVD), take care of my mind and spirit (the Pranayama practice), to take care of my household (the laundry, making dinner, making muffins), my friendship that has been strained (due to me being SO busy), protecting and helping others (the dog), and wanting to please others.  Wait a minute - what was that last one?  I'll need to think about that some more.  

Another motive was to get "everything" done so that tomorrow I might enjoy a relatively quiet and less busy evening (i.e., I made enough dinner so that there are leftovers for tomorrow night).

Was it all worth it? I'll have to let you know. Tomorrow's plans include work, lunch at home, another 30-minute workout, leftovers, and some yoga home practice with plenty of Savasana.

The main thing that I got out of reflecting on this one-thing-after-another day is that we have time for everything we choose  to have time for.  Luckily, I don't jam pack every day the way I did this one...but as far as cardio exercise, I used to skip it because I "didn't have enough time."  We will make time for those things that are truly our priorities - and sometimes we may surprise ourselves when we realize that what we profess to be our priorties are not reflected in our behavior or in our daily schedules.

May you be blessed with the wisdom to use your time for the highest good of yourself and all those in your life...and may I do the same.
Debbie aka Sulilo

Time is what prevents everything from happening at once.
~John Archibald Wheeler


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Please join my Sulilo Yoga Team at Yoga for Hope San Francisco!

Yoga has truly changed my life. Because of my commitment to and participation in the practice, I feel more balanced, more connected, and my former battles with severe anxiety have been transformed into healing experiences.

So  many other people have found yoga to be a source of healing. I have friends who have participated in Yoga as a way to cope with stress, including the stress of living with a life-threatening illness such as breast cancer.

And, now, I am participating in City of Hope's Yoga for Hope event in San Francisco. I am participating in memory of my father and in honor of those who are living with life-threatening diseases.

City of Hope provides restorative yoga classes to people who are living with cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS and other life threatening diseases.  Visit my "Join my team" page to learn more about what this organization is doing to help support people in their healing.

I hope you will Join my team and help support this worthy event!

Debbie aka Sulilo

Saturday, July 10, 2010

"He said, WHAT?!?" | We ALL Get Insecure - Getting to the root of Insecurity

I had every intention today to write about embracing insecurity in my own life, but the Universe had a slightly different plan. Instead, I was a witness to a raging surge of insecurity as displayed by someone I love and care for deeply.  He is one of my closest friends on this planet, and since he does not usually allow himself to exhibit emotional vulnerability, I was particularly taken back by our exchange and his willingness to open up about about his insecurities - though he never called them that.

Up until recently, I depended on this friend for a lot.  I was a long-term unemployed individual with very little money coning in from unemployment insurance, and I had periods where I was emotionally needy...and he was there for me in every way, always supporting me and encouraging me.

About a month ago, I landed a great job not too far from home.  I am treated well there and actually look forward to going to work, both for the exciting work that allows for creative opportunities as well as the structure of operational duties, but I also enjoy the company of the people that I work with.

Everything was fine with my friend until about one week into my job. Then he began to change. He seemed distant, less affectionate, and even angry and bitter at times.  I felt a bit like I was being avoided, and it really hurt.  I questioned myself - had I done anything wrong? Could I have offended him in some unintentional manner?  I asked him, but he denied it. He said he hadn't been sleeping well and had a lot on his mind.  But, the new tension - the stressed state of our relationship left me feeling like I had a knot in my stomach. It was very unsettling.

Today, we were driving around, and he said to me, "You don't need me."  "What?" I asked.  "You don't need me," he said, "If you wanted to go off on your own now, you have everything you need to take care of yourself."  I took a deep breath and thanked the powers that be for this opportunity to show love and compassion, and to see what a destructive beast insecurity can be and how badly it can make others around you feel to see you in that state.

My original reaction though, was to say, "What? You need everyone in your life to 'need' you? Can't I just love you?" This is when I really felt stunned. He said he felt that he wasn't loveable and wondered why I would possibly desire to be with him if I didn't "need" him in some way.  In that moment I reassured him of how loveable that he is, and I acknowledged, for myself and for him, that I have always had everything I needed and could have gone off and taken care of myself, on my own, at any point, even when I was down and out financially on unemployment. I have been homeless in my life, and not that I would allow things to get that bad, but there are always friends' couches to sleep on and roommate situations, local places of worship - I wouldn't be out on the street.

If I were that unhappy with our relationship, I could have gone and done that at anytime. I know that. I was there because I love him.  After that conversation, it was as if a huge weight had been lifted and our relationship felt less strained and more "back to normal."

It is so easy for us to get self-centered and think that everything is about us - that our insecurities and issues are so important - that we forget that what we are going through - EVERY day, is part of the collective human experience. Someone, somewhere, is dealing with the issues that you are dealing with. Many people are.  Sometimes, when we see someone else who we love struggling with something we've also had difficulty with in lives, we are able to extend them love, compassion, understanding, and reassurance.  Then, we realize that we've tapped into a well of strength within - something that we can then turn to and utilize for healing within our own heart and soul.

Insecurity. It can only heal when it is brought out into the light, spoken about, and addressed. Often times, the things that make us feel insecure are not even truths at all. Exposing them in the light initiates the healing.

May you bring your insecurities into the light and be a source of love, compassion, and healing in the life of someone who is feeling insecure right now.

Debbie aka Sulilo

I found the image of the Insecurity T-Shirt on Zazzle

Friday, July 9, 2010

Embracing Insecurity

That's right - I said, "Embracing Insecurity."  I once had a spiritual teacher who suggested something that I found to be quite odd.  I told her that I felt really "dark" one particular day. It was completely out of character for me, and it scared me. 

"Why does it scare you?" she asked, "Everyone experiences anger. Why don't you Embrace it?"  I really had no idea what she was talking about. "You mean, maybe do something artistic with big, violent black swirls across the paper? What do you mean, embrace the anger? I have shame around the anger. Anger is a bad thing. I don't want to be angry. I don't want to express the anger. I just want it to go away."

"The only way it will go away is if you meet it face-to-face. Ask it why it's here and what it needs. Love it, and then free it to be on its way.  If you run from it, it will only continue to return and leaving you feeling uncomfortable."

This made sense.  She went on, "Why don't you completely embrace it by doing what I've suggested, and to top it all off, dress in grungy 1990s clothes - maybe in all black or dark plaid. Wear dark makeup, and give off a little 'tude. Just for a day - embrace the anger."

I walked away from our conversation giggling and thinking that it was a crazy enough idea that I would try it.  The next morning, I got ready for my job (then as a social worker), and since I knew I'd be desk bound for the day and not out in the field meeting with clients, I dug in my closet and found some "dark" clothes, kind of amused that I actually had some in my closet. :-)

What I put together was a black and white button down, long sleeved shirt, a black skirt, black nylons, and yes, black shoes. I did my eye make up a bit more heavy and wore a slightly darker lipstick that I usually do. I didn't want to go full-force gothic, as I did not want to be hauled away as an insane person - the flip would have been way too much for all of those PsyD's and MSWs.

I got to work and felt a growl in my throat and a heaviness in my step. I asked anger why it was here and what it needed. And, you know what? It just needed to be acknowledged, accepted, and released.

I walked around that day at work and actually got compliments on my "edgy" outfit and told that I look really great in dark eye makeup.  It was the oddest thing ever.  The side of me that terrified me so...the side that I did not even want to acknowledge, let alone embrace, was just a normal, human experience that others could see and identify with.

These days, it's insecurity that has been coming up, and I've been trying to ignore it.  As I sat down to think about how I would approach insecurity in this blog post, the story of my spiritual teacher and the conversation about Embracing Anger came to mind. And, I'm glad it did...because tomorrow I am going to get up and Embrace the Insecurity.  I'll let you know how that goes.

Debbie aka Sulilo

The beautiful image in this post is by: Chris Wagner

Thursday, July 8, 2010

What part of you are you feeding?

Today Jillian Michaels kicked my butt.  If you don't know who she is, I'll let you google her after you read this.  In brief, she is a (now famous) fitness trainer who made herself known through a popular reality t.v. show called "The Biggest Loser," in which contestants compete to get in the best shape and lose the most amount of weight (under constant supervision by a physician, pyschologist, and fitness trainers.)  I've watched a lot of the show, but as far as moving my body in a cardiovascular way or using weights, I'm afraid it is only watching that I've done for a long time.

Aside from my Yoga practice, I've been quite sedentary for about a year and half. I've spent a lot of time in quiet contemplation, cooking, playing around on the internet, and indulging in a big time waster (but guilty pleasure): t.v.  I also indulged in foods that were very unhealthy for me on all levels: mind, body, and spirit.  Let's just say that the whole lunch crew at Taco Bell knew me. By name. (Not joking.)

When I reflect on what part of myself I was "feeding" during that time, it becomes clear that I was satisfying a part of me that had felt starved or deprived for a very long time.  I was overeating junk food in excess to comfort my inner child. In fact, as a guilt-ridden parent often does, I let her run the show for most of the past 18 months.

I went to bed as late as I wanted to and slept in whenever I felt like it. (I should mention that I was a long-term unemployed individual - I wasn't blowing off any responsibilities, because I really did have very many.)  I ate whatever I felt like eating, whenever I felt like eating it. I had thrown responsible eating decision making into the wind and ate with reckless abandon.  If I felt like a brownie sundae at 11:00 pm on a weeknight, guess what I was off to fix for myself in that next moment.  I had no intention of working any of these indulgence off through physical exercise.

A little bit of my background may help to explain why I went to such extremes of indulgence.  I have had my share of the extreme opposite: deprivation. As a child, and even into my young adulthood, I experienced times where there was no or very little food available to me.  I had to scavenge to find something to eat and was often left feeling hungry, faint, and lethargic.  These early life experiences translated over the years into a dysfunctional relationship with food and with my body. 

There have been times when I've felt so stressed that I literally had to force myself to eat because I completely lacked an appetite and had no desire for food. Anxiety consumed me.  These times were very difficult, and it was only after 3 sessions with an AMAZING hypnotherapist by the name of Susan Gold (in San Mateo, CA), and a lot of soul searching that I eventually overcame this "eating disorder - not otherwise specified"- the actual diagnosis I was given through Kaiser Medical Foundation.

I declared during my third session: "I don't have an eating disorder. I am ordering my eating," meaning that I was making order of all of the clutter and puzzle pieces and was whole and healed.

It's been quite some time since that session, and only now am I beginning to make responsible and loving decisions around my body and food. I sometimes have to take a deep breath and stop myself when I notice thoughts (and words coming out of my mouth) of non-acceptance. I show myself love and compassion, as I would a dear friend. I try to understand why I am reaching for a certain food or craving something in particular.

I've limited fast food to one time per week, which is a major change.  I am eating fresh fruits and vegetables daily, and though I prefer to be completely vegetarian, for health reasons I have been cooking and enjoying lean meats and fish.  I am so blessed to work at a location that is also on a ranch where organic produce is grown, and I am often offered some to take home.  Having fresh food from the earth, from just down the road is something really special.

I won't tell you that I never eat sweets or that my diet is perfectly balanced, but it is getting healthier and healthier as time goes on, and most days, I do pretty well with making healthy decisions.

On top of that, I started the "30 Day Shred" DVD with Jillian Michaels. Day One was INCREDIBLY difficult for me, to say the least. The workout is only 20 minutes in length, but you are moving non-stop the entire time, and there are push-ups, crunches, jumping jacks, and more. I was literally so sore afterward that I had difficulty walking down the stairs.  But I know that this will get easier in time and that I am doing something great for my body.  This makes me feel good in my mind, and my spirit is also pleased.

If you've been putting something off for a while - especially something that is potentially very beneficial for you, instead of beating yourself up or thinking that you don't have the strength to change, please show yourself love, compassion, and understanding.

Investigate the source or motivation of your behavior, and ask yourself what you would need in order to motivate you into a healthier way of behaving.  Listen to your inner child (to an extent ☺) and your heart, and please reach out to others - friends, family, a therapist, a hypnotherapist, a minister - whoever you need in order to feel supported on your journey.

Know that you are already whole and well.

Debbie aka Sulilo

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Is your day doomed? Live Your Yoga: Flip it around with Pranayama and Gratitude

Today was one of those days where, from the get-go, I just wanted to stay in bed and hang out with my cat...literally.  It's that time of the month, and I had a headache and felt hungover, even though I had eaten well at dinner time last night, hadn't touched any alcohol and had gone to bed at a very reasonable hour.

I thought about my options and decided to practice some Pranayama (the Yoga of breathing).  At first, I was surprised at how expansive my breath was.  For some reason, based on the tension in my jaw, head, shoulders and back upon awakening, I expected my breath to be shorter or for me to have to struggle in order to take the deep, ocean breaths that would eventually turn into smooth, silky exchange with the Universe around me. But, lo and behold, I experienced those smooth, silky, ocean breaths upon beginning the practice. It felt really good.

It also made me think: why do we often anticipate the worst instead of expecting the better scenario? Why did I expect a struggle instead of trusting and accepting that my experience would be whatever it needed to be in that given moment?  Part of it is past experience, of course.  In yoga class, I often have to work up to having a more relaxed, long flowing breath.  Perhaps practicing Pranayama in bed, even if we awaken in a tense state, is a bit easier on our lungs, organs, and our body-mind-spirit in general.  In any event, I continued practicing for about 5 minutes, all the while stretching out the tense areas in interesting yoga-like poses, while still in bed.  I got a few curious looks from my cat, but he eventually joined in on the stretch-fest, too. :)

I then began to flip the coin, and instead of imaging that it would be difficult for me to get through my work day between the combination of how I felt and thinking about my family on the east coast being at my Uncle Joe's funeral, I began to think about all of the things that I had to look forward to: My co-worker (who only comes in once a week), who just brightens the whole place up and lifts the vibration of the whole office was coming in today (I was definitely looking forward to that!), my boss was counting on me to take care of a number of things, and I enjoy my work... I was going to order a brand new, shiny, top-of-the-line cell phone that the company is providing so that I can stay connected and blog, tweet, and Facebook while in the field and while traveling....I'd get to see my Boss' wife, who always either makes me laugh or gets me thinking about something interesting (and she often offers me delicious wholesome goods from her organic garden.) 

After giving some thought to all of the blessings in store for me today, I literally lept out of bed and began to get ready.  I took extra care to pamper myself, doing my makeup nicely and taking my time with my breakfast.

Interestingly though, throughout the day I noticed a lingering undertone of insecurity. I am not sure what it was about - probably the fact that I am a very imperfect person who sometimes attains to be perfect in everyone's eyes - neurotically recounting what I've said and apologizing for things that never offended anyone to begin with.  Perhaps I was a bit more vulnerable today than other days, but whatever the case, I showed myself compassion and recited: "Today I am feeling insecure. How human of me." Then it was basically, "OK, now get on with it." No need to continue to analyze (after all, no one else was).

I was able to enjoy the day, be productive, and return to my breath and practice Pranayama with no apology. I even took a 3 minute Yoga stretch break outside in the sun :)

So, the next time you wake up thinking the day is doomed, stop for a moment and breathe deeply. Reflect on all of the wonderful possibilities for the day and things you can be grateful for, and watch your day transform before your very eyes.

Debbie aka Sulilo

Photo from MultiMediaStudyEtsy on Flickr

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

No Savasana? How about Breakfast for Dinner?

Sometimes we have to roll with the punches.  Yesterday, for example, I had the now rare opportunity to attend a daytime, weekday yoga class. One of my favorite Yoga teachers was substituting for one of my other favorite yoga teachers.  From the moment I found out that I could attend, I truly began to look forward to my teacher's usual, comforting, opening guided mindfulness meditation and chanting, the gentle asanas, and the wonderful savasana.

But, things did not go completely "as planned."  While our teacher did do a beautiful opening and some great movements for relieving tension, our class ended abruptly as the next class scheduled to use the studio - some vibrant, upbeat, and talkative belly dancers - walked in just as we were about to lay down for savasana.  In all fairness, the gym schedules the classes in a rediculous manner - our class ends at 12:30 and the belly dancing class starts at 12:30, with no cushion in-between.

This slipped the mind of our substituting teacher, and judging from the disappointed looks many of us had on our faces as we slipped out of the room, we were left feeling like something was missing. And something was: our expectation had not been fulfilled.  What we had planned in our heads and what we have come to expect simply did not come to pass, and we felt shaken.  It took some time to recoup and appreciate what we did receive from the class and get beyond what we did not get.

We are creatures of habit, and for those of us who consider our yoga practice to be our spiritual practice, it can take some adjustment to transition from the serene, peaceful world of the yoga studio and the places we travel mentally and spiritually during the sacred yoga class gathering to the reality of the world we walk into and the lives we lead when we walk out of the studio. 

Our teacher felt so badly about this mishap and explained this too us. We love her dearly and told her not to worry.  Sometimes things don't work out just as we had planned, and we have to roll with it. It's kind of like those nights when you plan on coming home and making a nice, somewhat involved dinner, only to end up working late, getting stuck in traffic, and wanting to do nothing but park yourself in front of the television to catch up on some of that guilty pleasure that you've been Tivo-ing.

On nights like these, I like to make breakfast for dinner. If life is going to feel upside down, then I'm just going to go with it.  And because I anticipated an interesting Tuesday, having had Monday off for the holiday and having extreme PMS, I planned this week's home menu with breakfast for dinner.  I knew that I could use this to go with the flow in what could otherwise be a stressful evening or one where we end up eating something really unhealthy just to have it fast and without effort.

To be fair, I did not have to stay at work late today, but nonetheless, breakfast for dinner it was.  I enjoyed chopping up the onions, peppers, mushrooms, and other goodies, knowing that a healthy meal was going to be on the table in no-time, and with no stress. 

Sometimes savasana doesn't happen. Sometimes we eat breakfast for dinner.  When we begin to accept life's mini twists and turns, we prepare ourselves for those bigger, unexpected detours. And, we can live more happily in the very present Now.

Debbie aka Sulilo

Monday, July 5, 2010

"Every thing ends sometime..." he said

My partner and I watched the 4th of July fireworks display this year from a vista point way up on the mountain. This vantage point afforded us a view of the fireworks displays across the Bay Area, including San Francisco, Foster City, and Redwood City, CA.

While all of this was happening, I couldn't help but feel a strong sense of gratitude and contentment.  It was a warm 77 degrees. The sky above us was filled with ancient stars - the bright North Star just to our left.  A crowd of other people (mostly adults!) oohing and ahhing at the spectacular view from this vantage point. And, me and my significant other, safe and sound and having a very enjoyable evening.

Then my thoughts shifted to my Uncle Joe, who passed away and transitioned from this life a few days ago on July 1st. Interestingly, the sadness that came over me was not really for him, per se.  I had spoken with him a few weeks ago. His weak heart, which he had been dealing with for decades, could no longer beat to sustain him unless he were to stay on a heart defibrillator and take a ton of medication. The diabetes that he suffered from had also escalated, requiring more frequent insulin and medication dosages.  My uncle decided that he did not want to continue living if it required such assistance. He had lived a long life (into his 80s) and had suffered much of the previous year in pain, being poked and prodded while doctors tried so hard to figure out how and if they could help him to go on with life.

Uncle Joe ended up in hospice, and he (and I put this lightly) hated it there. He was lonely. The sound of beeping machines and the spirit of imminent death brought a cold feeling over him.  If he was going to die, he wanted to die in a way that he felt was dignified, warm, and loving. His final request was to go back home and be with his family for his final days.  His wife, my aunt Dolly, and his children and grandchild obliged.

Once home, Uncle Joe was at first energetic and excited. He talked to me on the phone a lot. Family visited every day.  His hospice at home regiment was to come completely off of any life sustaining drugs - this included insulin, blood pressure medication, the heart defibrillator, etc.  He could still eat, drink, and take any type of medication that helped to alleviate pain and discomfort, and a nurse visited daily to see to this.

As the week went on, Uncle Joe became weaker. He talked less and slept more.  He stopped eating, and his daughter had to give him water via an eye dropper in his mouth. I was heartbroken to hear that my little cousin, his granddaughter, said to him, "Poppa, there is always hope. You'll get better," her young heart not fully comprehending the gravity of the situation.

His wife of 46 years (46 YEARS!), my Auntie Dolly, was hanging in there - being so strong on the phone.  Then, I got the call on July 1st.  My mom called to tell me.  I then called Auntie Dolly, and for the first time, she broke down. I told her she would see him again, and she agreed. Now, I had cried during this whole scenario, but when I heard Auntie Dolly break down, that's when I *lost* it.

My heart completely went out to her. Her companion of 46+ years - the person she did everything with and celebrated every holiday and every moment of life with, was gone.  He was suddenly and forever - no longer in her life the way he had been for so very long.  His physical presence would be no more. I cried for her. I mourned for her. I mourned for his immediate family.

And, last night at the fireworks, the thought that crossed my mind was that this was the very first 4th of July that Auntie Dolly and the rest of the family would be without Uncle Joe. He wasn't sitting outside with them watching the display of colorful sparkles in the sky (though perhaps he was amongst them). It just made me sad for her...and perhaps for me.

Auntie Dolly and Uncle Joe in 2007

I think that whenever some dies, and we've felt some type of connection to them, it reminds us of our own mortality, and the fact that the people around us that we love so dearly are also mortals, and none of us knows the day or time when any of us will leave this plane.

I began to weep, and I told my partner why.  He said, "Every thing ends sometime. If you make friends with this statement, you'll be alright."  It was a profound thing to say at that moment. This world and this life are all about being impermeable. The only thing certain is that things change. It doesn't necessarily make it any less difficult to cope with the loss of someone you love, but it can ease it a bit.

Some of us can also take comfort in our spiritual perspectives about life after death. My thoughts on the subject have evolved over time, and at present, I believe in reincarnation...though I feel that we likely do not reincarnate from spiritual bodies and onto the planet again until everyone we've personally loved or who has loved us has also passed on.  Others believe in heaven, or that we are in a state of sleep until God calls us again.

Whatever your belief system, may it bring you peace and strength during times of loss. May our hearts be open to healing and to ways in which we can assist, love, and show compassion for those who are suffering loss. May we take the peace of mind, the residue that is yoga, off of the mat and into situations that require calmness, acceptance, and balance.

Debbie aka Sulilo

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Lovely (Free!) 20-Minute Morning Yoga Practice by Jason Crandell

For weeks I have been exploring Yoga Journal's online presence, and I am so pleased with the abundance of home practices that they make available for FREE in the form of podcasts, streaming video, and articles.

I've had one extra tab open on my browser for a while now, and this morning, I decided to finally give it a try. It is Jason Crandell's Morning Sequence from his DVD, "Yoga for Morning, Noon, and Night," (which I have gone ahead and ordered and will review for you on this blog once I've had a chance to experience it.)

As far as the wonderful free sampling offered on Yoga Journal's website, Jason Crandell's Morning Sequence was *so* worth the first 20-minutes of my Sunday morning.  I now feel alert, energized, less lethargic - as if the stagnant energy from the evening (and even from the previous week) was released, and clarity is now flowing through me.


Jason Crandell 

Jason's calm and soothing voice guides you first from very relaxing poses and gradually increases to low to moderate intensity (with you being given the choice for modification depending on  your specific needs during that particular practice), and it includes my very favorite sequence: Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar), in an abbreviated (less intense) form.

If you are looking for a gentle way to awaken your body, mind, and spirit in the morning, check out this great video as well as the others on Yoga Journal's website.

Click here to go to Yoga Journal's free 20-Minute Morning Yoga Practice.

Debbie aka Sulilo

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Discontent and Irritability - The Yogi's Challenges During PMS

Irritability. Discontent. About once a month, I, and so many other women experience anywhere from a day to a week to more of this emotionally and physically challenging state known as PMS.

While some women have little to no symptoms, I am one of those who experience an array of symptoms in varying degrees from month to month.  The most difficult, I find, are irritability and discontent.

Just before my menstrual cycle, emotions like anger, irritability, and frustration seem to feel safe enough to make their way to the surface and to express themselves - and almost always not in the nicest ways to myself and those around me.  Interestingly, these are the same emotions that I tend to "avoid" experiencing when they come up at any other time of the month, because I find them to be unpleasant, unkind, and irrational.

I sometimes wonder that if I allow myself to feel those emotions as they come up, rather than bottling them up inside or denying myself the experience of naturally moving through them, would I allow for such a free-for-all during "that time of the month"?

I wonder how our bodies/minds/spirits are responding and coping on all levels, considering the magnitude of the bio-chemical changes that occur during these times.  Our body/mind craves foods that are higher in salt, sugar, and fat content (though these foods are actually counteractive, raising out mood disproportionately and then dropping us lower than we were before - not to mention the bloating that comes along with extra sodium intake), and our spirit desperately longs for us to calm our nervous system by avoiding things like caffeine (coffee and chocolate, oh my!).

Instead, it prefers that we find a dimly lit, quiet, warm place to snuggle up - where it can feel safe, calm down, and rest.

Some of the things that I find helpful during these times are:

  • To try my best not to lash out at others - it is not okay for me to behave in a way that is hurtful to others just because I am experiencing frustration or irritability - not during PMS, and not during other times as well.
  • To be more compassionate with myself - to realize that I am a human being and a woman, and that I can take great joy in why these things are happening in my body. It really is part of a miracle and the way that our bodies are designed. I can use these experiences when, for me, it feels safer than any other time to experience and cry through those emotions that I consider to be "dark" (you can't have or know light without having or knowing darkness sometimes). I can show myself compassion and think, "Wow, I really feel irritated right now. How human of me." Or,"I really fill (Fill in The Blank) right now. How Human of Me." (Thanks to one of my Yoga Teachers, Nicole, for that one.)
  • I can do things to pamper myself a bit - interestingly enough, this is also something I feel more okay about doing during this time of the month. I need not deprive myself of all sweets and craved foods. In fact, this is when I usually treat myself to a portion of Trader Joe's Reduced Fat Cheese Crunchies (a much healthier but equally delicious alternative to Cheetos) and things like a single serving package of Ben and Jerry's, or  a Grande Carmel Light Frappuccino from Starbucks.  I do it in moderation, and then I remind myself that such treats can be enjoyed at other times, as long as I monitor the portions.
  • Practicing Yogaaaaaaaaaaah.  If I have time to take a class or more during this week, that is the ultimate. I find my practice to be stronger when I have the accountability of a set class -especially around other yogi friends. But, if there isn't enough time, there is always a home practice. Whether it's a DVD, a routine I've memorized, or just purely going into some of my restorative poses, such as Bound Angle (Baddha Konasana) or Legs Up The Wall (Viparita Karani), both of which have been shown to reduce stress and induce a state of relaxation (and even bliss!) Just remember that inversions, such as Legs Up The Wall should not be performed during your actual menstrual cycle.

What are some of the ways you deal with "that time of the month"?  If you have a female partner, what could she do to help communicate what she is going through?  What can you do to help her feel better during this challenging time?

I hope this was helpful. I feel better simply having written it. Now I'm off to enjoy a single serving of ice cream. :-)

Debbie aka Sulilo